Close this search box.

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union Awards Idea Leap Grants to Five Small Businesses

Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union is proud to announce the winners of the Fourth Annual Idea Leap Grant Pitch Competition.

During the outdoor pitch competition on the lawn of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, finalists had up to five minutes to pitch why they were deserving of the grant. A brief Q&A session with judges followed each presentation. The judges scored the finalists on a five-scale rubric.

Volunteer judges included Vickye Bone, vice president, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, Jennie DeCook, director, Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State Community College, Emily Gilliam, credit analyst, Brightbridge Capital, Charles Fisher, partner/director, Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C., Danielle Landrum, co-owner of Locals Only Gifts and Goods, 2020 Idea Leap Grant Winner & 2021 Celebrity Judge, and Diane Parks, retired director of Leadership Chattanooga, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. Dionne Jenkins, vice president of diversity and inclusion at TVFCU, chaired TVFCU’s Idea Leap Grant judging panel.

First Place — $21,000
Chatt Taste Food Tours, LLC, Chattanooga, Briana Garza
Grant Uses: To build out the region’s first electric mobile dining car, an elevated dining room on wheels.

Second Place — $15,000
Champion Christian Learning Academy, Chattanooga, Cynthia Evans
Grant Uses: To purchase furniture, playground equipment and learning curriculum.

Third Place — $10,000
Wild Violet Permaculture, LLC, Signal Mountain, Nathaniel Bankhead and Bryant Hawkins
Grant Uses: To create comprehensive training programs and materials for employees and clients, to invest in future native plant nursery on Signal Mountain, and to scale compost production and distribution program.

Fourth Place — $7,000
Salon Posh, Athens, Allison Stiller
Grant Uses: To expand salon creating a space for continued education for license professionals, as well as adding manicure tables, pedicure chairs and treatment rooms so that we can offer more services.

Fifth Place — $5,000
Lil Mama’s Chicago Style Hoagy, Chattanooga, Tiffany Pauldon-Banks
Grant Uses: To invest in continued staff training, marketing, catering and new equipment.

Media Contact

Jessica McCosh, APR Media & Communications Coordinator C: (423) 800-4224

The Idea Leap Grant is an extension of the credit union’s Idea Leap Loan Initiative that was created specifically for small businesses in 2016. To date, TVFCU has funded more than $3.8 million in loans to emerging and early-stage businesses through the loan initiative. Furthermore, TVFCU has awarded more than $183,000 in Idea Leap Grants.

For more information about the Idea Leap Grant, please visit

Photo Caption: From left, Nathaniel Bankhead and Bryant Hawkins from Wild Violet Permaculture, LLC, Cynthia Evans from Champion Christian Learning Academy, Briana Garza from Chatt Taste Food Tours, LLC, Allison Stiller from Salon Posh, and Tiffany Pauldon-Banks from Lil Mama’s Chicago Style Hoagy.

Print Friendly and PDF